Sunday, 22 March 2009

Running smoothly

On Wednesday it was Salvage - dramatised readings of three superb pieces by Peter Spafford in the cleared-out arts and craft room upstairs at the Bowery, and on Thursday members of Trio Literati seemed well pleased at the very full audience which had arrived to sample their special brew of poetry and song, immaculately rehearsed and beautifully presented. Lesley and Richard Quayle are pictured below performing Dylan's Don't think twice, it's all right just before the interval.

Amongst those spotted in the audience were David Robertson from Theatre of the Dales (see below) and Paul Priest, author of Sonnets, the new play which the company will perform at the Yorkshire College this coming Saturday and Sunday at 7.30pm. You can watch a slide show of their recent Twelfth Night by clicking here.

Robert Barnard fielded a fair number of questions after his talk on Friday Making Crime Pay from aficionados who were obviously very well-acquainted with the genre. At one point, there was even speculation about the relative merits of Norwegian and Swedish crime writers! Apparently the Norwegians are now on the up and up, so eat your heart out Henning Mankell.

Theatre Group Blah Blah Blah performed When the Wind Changed no less than three times on Saturday morning due to popular demand from the five and six year-olds in Headingley Library, some of whom had turned up a little late. They were charmed. They liked the way the actors sitting on the carpet made faces and put wigs and hats on and became funny people. They liked the orange juice and the biscuits too.

Ian Clayton's writers' workshop on Saturday afternoon in the Stadium café was attended by seventeen people - which according to Ian is a lot more than the usual.

Rugby met literature met music in the Executive Suite at Headingley Stadium on Saturday evening when Phil Caplan spoke about his work as a ghost writer for sports celebrities including, of course, Jamie Peacock. He explained how the books (like No White Flag, the Jamie Peacock story) had grown out of match reporting, and how Rugby League, which has world-class sportsmen and long traditions, is still, regretfully, treated as a poor relation in Britain outside the north of England. Jamie stepped forward to confirm that everything in the book was true, and answered questions from the audience. Doug Sandle introduced Phil and Jamie and outlined the work of the Rugby Arts Steering Group, which has already made a number of achievements, including, for example, a specially composed piece from composer Carl Davis.

Richard Wilcocks said a few words about the Headingley LitFest and the fruitful partnership with the Rugby Foundation before introducing Ian Clayton, mentioning that Headingley had produced both sporting and literary greats, and that it was right and proper for them to be celebrated together. The Ancient Greeks had given awards to athletes and poets at the Olympic Games, and why not? Similarly, it should not be enough to just watch a rugby match or listen to a poetry reading: the watchers and the listeners should be encouraged to do it themselves. So - the LitFest and the Rugby Foundation had provided opportunities for young and old in the form of a sports story competition for high school students and a writer's workshop.

Ian Clayton spoke as only Ian Clayton can speak, and the audience was very soon falling about because of his opening anecdotes. His talk was wide-ranging, and included a reading from Bringing it all back home - for example the sections about his encounter with Johnny Hope, who could recite Featherstone Rovers' teams right back to Edwardian times like prayers, and his search for the place where Bessie Smith died in what was once the Afro-American Hospital but which is now the Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Soon after the applause, plenty of copies of the hardback and the softback editions were sold.

Below, Lesley and Richard Quayle, David Robertson with Sauvignon Blanc and Ian Clayton with a pen:

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